The traditional world: Chidambaram
An ancient temple, seeped in its old orthodox ways of living, is precise with its timings of ritual to Lord Nataraja. This is Chidambaram Nataraja temple, an ancient temple that seems to show far more openness to religious tolerance than our political counterparts.
And within this temple a rare unbelievable event happens almost every day, one that is part of living in this temple city but one that you wouldn't find anywhere else in the world. Two women burkha clad, hold their slippers in their hands and walk through this temple. It seems like they take this route as their regular short cut through the temple courtyard.
They walk on with no hesitation, with freedom in their minds and no fear that they will be stopped. We looked at them and smiled, as I captured the moment, a moment that the world needs to see today, a truth that echoes in our little towns that there is communal brotherhood. It was a glitter of respect and mutual honour as a safron clad man walked by with the same peace as did women clad in black covering thier identity to the world at large.
The Corporate World: Iftar party at Chennai
It's the month of Ramzan and a group of muslims got together to surprize a largely hindu audience of an IT company targetted to meeting its goals. In the middle of all the hussle and crunching timelines, they decided to treat an audience of 150.
It was an event in the history of corporate living where everyone is trying to get the better of the other and only position and money largely does the talking. It was an event conducted at work, involving people from all other faiths instead of leaving for home early and keeping the festivities limited to their community.
Everyone participated as the group served the food, catering to vegetarians and non vegetarians at the same time. They gave out the delicious dishes that they had gotten together and sponsored for the entire division. They helped in serving bringing in a feeling of brotherhood, making sure everyone irrespective of position got a good mouthful. They fed a crowd of 150 before they broke their own fast.
Here is a living truth that we as a society are all Indians irrespective of religious or language barriers. These are small things in a big world both ancient or modern. The feeling of brotherhood is best brought out when people from different faiths come together and harmony rules the land. It is in the hearts of the common folk.
If you want to know what religious tolerance is, learn it from an Indian.